The large galaxy NGC 6872 appears in the image highlighted by NASA on Friday (23). It spans more than 500,000 light-years, which means it is at least five times the size of the Milky Way.
It’s easy to find in the image below: just look out for the galaxy so distorted that its spiral arms ended up stretched out, resembling a bird’s wings. For this reason, it became known as the Condor Galaxy.
Located 200 million light-years away from us, NGC 6872 has been distorted by gravitational interactions with galaxy IC 4970. It is a smaller galaxy, visible above the Heart of the Condor.
To the left of the image is NGC 6876, a large elliptical galaxy. It is the dominant member of the Pavo galaxy group.
The long arms of NGC 6872 are just one example of galactic interaction. This process occurs when one galaxy affects another, and because it is rare to find it in isolation, it is common for this and other types of interactions to occur.
When they do occur, galactic interactions can cause major changes in the structure of those involved in the process. This is the reason for the distortion of some large galaxies, such as the Small and Large Magellanic Clouds.
Moreover, reactions can also lead to the formation of stars, which occur at higher rates than usual. Thus, the birth of stars seems to have a strong connection with interactions.